These Walls Bring Us Together

Attending the Apple Distinguished Educator Institutes at the end of each academic year is my time to reflect on the year of teaching and recharge for another year of learning. A global gathering of innovative educators who share vision and values for learning that are similar to mine. These global gatherings for reflection and collaboration are more important now than ever before. An education based institute attended by almost 400 educators representing 37 countries makes for an empowering experience. Coming together in one place in a unique opportunity to learn across cultures and boundaries. The walls of the ADE Institutes don’t divide us; they unite us as one community.

Often in education, barriers are put up in teaching and divisions are made when debating what is the best way to learn. These kinds of walls can slow down innovation and creativity in the teaching community, which impacts on the children we teach. The children that nobody else knows, but us, their class teachers.

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At Institute, we might be inside the walls of a conference, but these walls don’t divide us. They bring us together and become a think tank for creativity, for what is possible when we stand united as a community of innovative educators. The Apple Distinguished Educator community came together again in Austin, Texas, to build teaching ideas and strengthen confidence to try something new that will make a change to learning. With this courage and opportunity to be creative, we evaluate our practice, refine it and make it the best it can be, without any walls dividing us. I gain the confidence to share my work, my ideas and my vision to lead the charge for change in my school and the educators I connect with.

This year’s Institute was themed around Everyone Can Create. A simple statement but a complex idea behind it. Everyone can create, and everyone should be creating. Teachers, students, adults, children. Everyone. Everyone should be encouraged to create, because creating is in our DNA. It’s our personality, it’s our identity and it’s how we move forward and make a difference, together. Creativity should be at the heart of education, because it is creativity that solves problems, builds good communicators and makes the world not only a more interesting place to live, but a more successful place to live.

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New Friendships

Over the years I have developed a network with fellow Apple Distinguished Educators that brings the world to our early years classrooms. I regularly receive positive feedback from parents who are amazed at the way their young ones connect with other early years children around the world by using iPads and Apple software.

Today, Tuesday 19th January, marked another one of those moments in my career where my classroom really does become an international hub for collaboration between early years settings and teachers.

It was such a pleasure to welcome Marie Neves and Flavia Nascimento from Recife, Brazil to Burton Joyce, Nottingham and my classroom.

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My Top 5 Take Away Moments from the ADE Institute 2015 #ADE2015

Yesterday I wrote about my experience at Institute, reflecting on the ADE community as a whole, the theme of the week and how I benefit from being a part of this group. Today I want to share 5 of my greatest learning moments.

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Lessons for the Classroom – a reflection on the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute 2015 #ADE2015

This July I travelled to my third Apple Distinguished Educator Institute. It has been two years since I was invited to join this global community of innovative educators and it still stands as my most valued CPD experience. Being a part of this community is so important to me, it is a place that I can take time for myself and my professional growth.

After the Institute I stayed in Amsterdam with a few of my ADE friends and we visited Bodyworlds. An exhibition about the human body and the role happiness plays on your body. It was during this exhibition, 2 days after the Institute, where I began to draw up my reflections on the week. This post is punctuated with a few photographs of collages from Bodyworlds, ones that helped me knit those special moments at Institute together.

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“A Beginner’s Mindset”. My Reflections from the Apple Leadership Summit.

January saw the annual Apple Leadership Summit return to London and was attended by school leaders across Europe. Held at Kings Place alongside BETT in the same week, the event had a great buzz surrounding technology’s place in education, across all age groups and school types.

Primary schools were well represented this year, with guest speakers from the Stephen Perce Foundation and Flitch Green Academy. Apple Distinguished Educators gave spotlights, workshops and break-out sessions throughout the day, offering real examples of how iPad enhances the lessons and objectives that we all teach. Participation was key and workshops were practical.

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As well as teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator and school spotlights, the Summit included workshops and keynotes focusing on leading change, sharing vision and project management.

“Open Minds”

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Coding Curriculum Began Today. Am I Prepared? Maybe but let’s have a good sing along anyway!

Today, as I made my final preparations for starting the new school year, I couldn’t ignore the social media coverage of the new computing curriculum. The BBC have written a lot about the new primary curriculum today, from the computing perspective. They also announced a whole host of new projects to promote computer science in their children’s entertainment offerings and in their supporting educational websites.

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Nottinghamshire County Council iPad Networks

This academic year is already shaping up to be a great one with many exciting projects planned for my class already. Some of these I have blogged about already but today I want to write about the iPad Networks for Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) schools.

During the Summer Term last year I began talks with consultants at NCC about the possibility of running a specific training program for schools in the district with iPads. I have worked closely with the ICT team over the last 2 years, delivering workshops, presentations and drop-in sessions around my use of iPad in school.

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Apple Distinguished Educators Global Institute reflection and call to action.

This year I applied to attend the Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute, held in San Diego. My application was successful and I joined 9 other UK Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) on a trip to America which would change my life. Not only would this be a week to meet ADEs from 31 countries, it would be a chance to become a learner again, change perspectives, develop new skills and collaborate on a projects for the next school year.

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Back to Blogging – sharing the vision and seeing the impact.

When starting my new school in September, the mission was to turn the school around and promote the great things that happen inside our school. We are half way through the school year now and the work that we done so far has been incredible. Rapid progress is being made and the school feels like a completely different place than it did when I went to look around nearly a year ago.

We are very proud of what we have achieved so far.

Back in November I shared my vision for developing class blogs with head teachers and deputies at a school leadership conference in Nottinghamshire. My presentation was all about what could be achieved by blogging- I had only just started when I ran this workshop. I explained the upcoming requirements of the new computing curriculum and that e-safety and responsible internet use needs to be taught from Year 1. I suggested that blogs embeds this in the school ethos and regular blogging promotes responsible online behaviour.

This week everything fell in to place neatly, and the impact blogs have had on our learning environment and parental involvement has been phenomenal. It has only been 5 days.

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Including Early Years and ELGs in a computing curriculum (UPDATED September 2014)

The autumn term has been a long but rewarding one for me. A new job has been the challenge that I was looking for and I am settled in to a new school and a new role. Each week has passed with a new set of achievements and the role has been fast paced, but progress is being made at an astonishing rate!

One focus for me, as for many of us, is implementing a new computing curriculum for the school. As an early years teacher I am keen to include the foundation stage within the primary curriculum planning phase and make stronger links between the two curriculums.

This may be an easier process for other curriculum areas, but within the ‘technology’ strand in Early Years Outcomes and the new computing curriculum for key stage 1, it seems to be a little more vague.

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